Islington needs to improve further

Despite some improvements, youth offending work in Islington was still not effective in protecting the public, reducing reoffending and keeping young people safe, said Paul Wilson, Chief Inspector of Probation. Today he published the report of a recent joint inspection of the work of Islington Youth Offending Service.

This joint inspection of youth offending work in Islington is one of a small number of full joint inspections undertaken by HM Inspectorate of Probation with colleagues from the criminal justice, social care, education and health inspectorates. Inspectors focused on six key areas: reducing reoffending, protecting the public, protecting children and young people, ensuring the sentence is served, the effectiveness of governance and court work and reports.

Inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • work to reduce reoffending remained poor. The nature of the relationship between the local authority and the police has led to confusion of efforts, miscommunication and duplication of some work. There were some key missed opportunities including information sharing;
  • work to protect the public and actual or potential victims remained poor. This was the YOS’s weakest area of practice. The assessment of the risk that some children posed to others was often confused with their vulnerability. Processes and systems to ensure that Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements were effective were not robust;
  • work to protect children and reduce their vulnerability remained poor. The YOS was able to identify issues that made children vulnerable, but the support they received from children’s services was variable and there was genuine confusion and lack of understanding of how to protect individuals who also pose a risk of harm to others due to gangs or serious youth violence. The risks associated with gang activity, including the sexual exploitation of girls and threats to siblings and family, are either not understood or not always robustly considered;
  • the effectiveness of governance and partnership arrangements was unsatisfactory. The Partnership Board has undertaken a range of work including recruiting a suitably skilled staff team. Board members now need to focus on a small number of key areas; and
  • the effectiveness of interventions to reduce reoffending was unsatisfactory. Children and young people perceived some benefits in their relationships with case managers, but still lacked access to critical offending interventions including gang issues. Access to education, training and employment opportunities had improved, as had access to health care providers.

However, inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • work to ensure that the sentence was served remained satisfactory. The diverse range of needs that children and young people had was recognised and responded to. When necessary, breach and non-compliance were responded to appropriately.

Inspectors made recommendations to assist the YOS to make continuing improvements, including: ensuring that there is effective joint work between the local authority and the police to reduce reoffending, protect the public and keep children safe, and managing the risk of harm to others some children posed.

Paul Wilson said:

“Work to reduce reoffending in Islington is not without its challenges, including significant issues with gangs and serious youth violence. The Partnership Board has a clear idea of what work needs to be done to reduce reoffending, to protect the public and to keep children and young people safe. Since our last inspection there have been some improvements. However, the Partnership Board has not yet consistently ensured that services to children and young people are effective and, as a result, outcomes remain poor. Although the Youth Crime Strategy sets out how the Partnership Board intends to tackle these problems, we found that the relationship between the local authority and the police, and the subsequent poor coordination of joint work, had resulted in a lack of focus on public protection and the management of the serious risks some children and young people posed to others.”

– ENDS –

  1. The report is available at from 14 January 2016.
  2. The inspection programme of youth offending work, based on a risk-proportionate approach, was agreed by ministers in December 2011. Under this programme, full joint inspections are targeted primarily on areas where there are significant concerns about the effectiveness of youth offending work, based primarily on the three national youth justice indicators, supplemented by other measures, such as recent inspections. Occasional inspections are undertaken in areas that report high performance, in order to maintain a benchmark for good practice. Inspectors chose to inspect Islington because performance at its last inspection 18 months ago (report published in June 2014) had shown that outcomes for children and young people were poor. The reoffending rate for Islington was 52.1% which had increased from the previous year and was significantly higher than the average for England and Wales of 37.4%.
  3. These inspections focus on issues not subject to other forms of external scrutiny: work to reduce offending and re-offending by young people; the management and minimisation of the risk of harm that a young person may pose to other people; safeguarding young people from harm (from their own actions and others); and work to ensure they serve their sentence.
  4. There are four ratings which can be given: good, satisfactory, unsatisfactory and poor.
  5. The inspections are led by HMI Probation, with participation by Ofsted, CQC and HMI Constabulary (and in Wales by the corresponding Welsh inspectorates, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, Estyn and Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales).

For further information, please contact Jane Parsons at HM Inspectorate of Probation press office on 020 3681 2775 or 07880 787452.